The following is an announcement from the Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards (SOT stewards).
The Overlook trail in the City of Sonoma is set to fully re-open on April 28, 2019, with the completion of rehabilitation of the Lower Trail portion, which has been closed all winter. Access will be restored to the trail’s main entrance, off First Street West near the Mountain Cemetery gate.
A celebration with refreshments will be held at the kiosk at 11:00 am to thank the hundreds of community members and others who funded, supported and worked on the project. Guided tours are available with volunteer SOT stewards who will be on hand to explain the improvements and changes.
Rehabilitation of almost two miles of lower and upper trails cost the equivalent of about $200,000 in cash and in-kind labor and materials. Most of the money was raised locally, through generous donations from the community, SOT fund-raisers, and grants from local organizations such as Kiwanis, Impact100, Wine Country Weekend and the Evans Foundation.
The City was awarded a $55,000 grant for work on the Lower Trail from California’s Habitat Conservation Fund, contingent on a match of equal value from local sources, which has been met.
“Crews from American Conservation Experience, a non-profit organization that trains young people in trail building and restoration, did most of the heavy lifting, literally,” said Joanna Kemper, chair of the SOT stewards project team. “They worked from late June to early October last year and did a great job.”
In addition, it is estimated that more than 1,000 community volunteer hours, organized by SOT stewards, have been devoted to the project.
The rehabilitated Upper Trail re-opened for use last fall, but the Lower Trail continued to be off-limits to allow a new re-route segment and a decommissioned and re-seeded stretch to weather in during the winter.
Kemper said the trail receives about 50,000 visits annually from residents and visitors and has experienced much wear and tear since its construction almost 20 years ago. Three years ago, SOT stewards who look after regular maintenance sought advice from Don Beers, who designed the adjacent Montini Trail, about what could be done to make the trail more sustainable. “Don very generously donated his time and expertise to assess the trail and suggest solutions that would make for better footing, less erosion and that would need just routine maintenance in the future,” Kemper said.
SOT volunteers have looked after trail maintenance since its inception and keep the kiosk stocked with brochures and displays. The non-profit Sonoma Ecology Center, a 501(c)(3), acts as the group’s fiscal sponsor.
Visit the Sonoma Overlook Project Page for more information.